SAP CEO Has ‘Zero Interest’ in Salesforce Amid Deal Intrigue

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SAP SE Chief Executive Officer Bill McDermott worked to put down talk that his company is interested in buying Salesforce.com Inc.

The company’s technology isn’t unique enough to meet SAP’s criteria for an acquisition, McDermott told a conference in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday. Salesforce, the cloud-computing software provider, is working with financial advisers after being approached by a potential acquirer, people familiar with the matter said last week.

“We have always tried to buy assets that were the best in class or assets that were ascending in value and actually bringing new innovation solutions to market,” the CEO said during SAP’s annual Sapphire conference. “We have never bought something we thought was impaired or on the decline.”

“We have zero interest in Salesforce.com and never have we ever had any interest in Salesforce.com,” he added.

McDermott announced a data-sharing partnership with Google Inc. allowing enterprise customers to store data on Google Drive and move information across the companies’ applications. SAP is also working with Google’s Android for Work project to help smartphone users work remotely and to secure corporate information on mobile devices.

For Sapphire attendees, many of which are SAP customers, the bigger topic is whether Salesforce, the top supplier of online cloud-computing software for businesses, will be acquired -- and who’d be the buyer.

Several Meetings

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and McDermott held several meetings last year to discuss possible strategic alliances, people familiar with the matter have said. The talks also included a potential acquisition of Salesforce by SAP, said one of the people.

SAP said last week it never considered buying Salesforce, and isn’t now either. Oracle Corp. and Microsoft Corp. could also benefit by adding Salesforce’s customer-management software -- updated entirely online -- to their portfolios.

SAP is the biggest supplier of business-application software for financial and manufacturing planning. The company in February introduced a version of its flagship Business Suite software called S/4 Hana that’s optimized for SAP’s database. The Walldorf, Germany-based firm has acquired makers of cloud software in recent years, including the $3.5 billion acquisition of SuccessFactors Inc. in 2012 and the $7.4 billion deal last year for Concur Technologies Inc., whose tools let businesses manage expenses.

A takeover of Salesforce would be the largest ever of a software company, and for any buyer it would mark an aggressive push into cloud computing -- the delivery of business software and services via the Internet.

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